Two teams trying to make their case to jump into the top 25 square off Tuesday, when Missouri hosts Stephen F. Austin. Both squads are receiving votes in this week’s coaches poll and looking for a quality non-conference win.
The Lumberjacks are trying to earn a second straight victory over an SEC opponent after stunning LSU 83-82 on the road Saturday for their sixth consecutive win. Their lone defeat also came against an SEC foe, an 80-75 loss at Mississippi State on Nov. 22. The Tigers have won four straight, including the last three by an average of 25.3 points. They’re coming off an 85-51 thrashing of North Florida that pushed them past last season’s win total.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, ESPNU
ABOUT STEPHEN F. AUSTIN (10-1): The Lumberjacks lead the nation in turnovers forced per game (23), including 12.9 steals per contest – second-most in the country. That leads to plenty of run-outs and easy baskets, and swingman Kevon Harris (16.9 points, 6.1 rebounds) and forward T.J. Holyfield (15.5, 6.5) are two of the biggest beneficiaries. Guard Ivan Canete (8.7 points) got off to a slow start this season but has come on lately, averaging 12.3 points on 58.3 percent shooting over his last three games.
ABOUT MISSOURI (9-2): The Tigers have only three double-digit scorers, but some of their supporting cast are capable of putting up big numbers. Guard Kassius Robertson (13.7 points) and forward Jordan Barnett (13.7, 5.8 rebounds) are tied for the team lead in scoring, with forward Kevin Puryear (11, 5.2) not far behind. Freshman Jeremiah Tilmon (9.8 points, 5.1 rebounds) and Jontay Porter (8.5, 7.1) do a great job of defending the paint and dominating the glass as Missouri has outrebounded 10 of its 11 opponents.
1. Missouri’s 107 3-point field goals are the most in program history through 11 games.
2. Barnett is averaging 18.2 points and 7.8 rebounds over his last six contests.
3. Canete scored the Lumberjack’s final seven points against LSU and finished with 20, including the game-winning layup with 5.8 seconds left.
PREDICTION: Missouri 78, Stephen F. Austin 75